DEAR ABBY: Please print this for teachers everywhere:
Dear Miss Regan: Wherever you are now, I hope you can read this. I was that curly-haired kid in your third- and fourth-grade class in Brooklyn many years ago. I remember your love of animals and books. At the end of each school day you used to read the Dr. Doolittle stories to us. In my home there was almost no reading, but because of your influence, I went to the library, checked out the Dr. Doolittle books and read them cover-to-cover.
I remember how, when kids misbehaved, you held mock trials in which student volunteers played the part of the judge, the lawyers, the jurors, etc. Because of it, I gained a deep respect for law and order not only in the classroom but also in the outside world.
You made us draw maps of New York City over and over. I appreciated knowing the geography of the city so well. And you taught the boys as well as the girls how to crochet. I never used that skill, but it was nice to have been exposed to it.
Now that I am a teacher, I often wonder if I make a difference in my students' lives. But when I do, I think back to your class and am reminded that, yes, the children do walk away with lifelong gifts. Thank you for all you did for me. -- HOWARD IN BRIDGEWATER, N.J.
DEAR HOWARD: I am pleased to print your letter. I am often asked for gift suggestions for teachers. Your message illustrates that one of the most meaningful gifts a teacher can receive is a letter from a former student, recalling a memory or life lesson learned in his or her classroom. These letters are more precious than anything money could buy because the most meaningful thing we have in life is knowing that during the time we spent on this Earth we were able to make a difference.